Is the Anchoring Rule Adrift?

I am saddened but not surprised to read the recent article on by Jaime Diaz “Why is Bernhard Langer guilty until proven innocent?

In my Feb 17th 2016 “Ambiguous Anchoring Rule” post I expressed my disappointment to hear the chatter after his Chubb Classic victory implying that he may be violating the Anchoring rule, and stated then, as I will now, that “Bernhard is one of the most honest and sincere individuals that I have met on Tour. He clearly understands the rule and would not violate it.”

In this post I re-emphasized two points made in my October 2015 article “The Point of Anchoring”  regarding adoption and implementation of anchoring rule, which were:

  1. “There was no evidence that anchoring had a detrimental effect on the game.”

  2. “The way it has been explained and written introduces ambiguity, confusion, complexity as well as difficulty in monitoring, all of which will inevitably lead to disagreement and confrontation. This is not good for the game.”

When we introduce a questionable rule for possibly good reasons but not clearly explained, and it turns out to be worse than the perceived problem, then we need to take a new look at the anchoring rule and the objective for adopting it.

As Technical Director of the USGA I dedicated a good portion of my life to writing, interpreting and monitoring the equipment rules, and subsequently researching putting. I sincerely believe in the importance of simplicity and clarity of the rules which promotes observance.

A proposed alternative to the anchoring rule – which took approximately 20,000 words to explain— is only 17 words long and reads “The length of the putter shall be no longer than the shortest club in the player’s bag.”  ( Ref. Point of Anchoring Oct 2015)

If you have any comments, please share them below.



23 thoughts on “Is the Anchoring Rule Adrift?

  1. I have been making my own custom quote for over 30 years Long ago I used to always buy the longest standard length putter that was available which was usually a 36 inch length. Are used a 36 inch long Bullseye for many years until I switch to a Ping Answer. At some point I know not when I use that extender to increase the length 237 inches. I am 6’2″ tall of normal build and I have a fairly erect stance similsr to Don January, but prefer a read them all bend in my elbows. All that being said by your rule I would be limited to a 36 inch long putter. I think you could affect your objective by stating that the length of the putter shaft should not exceed somewhere between 38 and 40 inches. I think one would have to be a midget to anchor a putter shaft of that length

  2. Do away with the stupid rule. And while we’re at it, let’s get some useable groves back in our iron. Us old farts can’t stop a ball with these “new grooves”! I have had to go back to my Ping +no+ irons. Still can’t back it up as I did years ago, but at least it’s findable on or near the green.

  3. Dear Frank:
    Your proposed text would force players ( many ) who split their hands when gripping the putter to experience grief and aggravation.
    I suggest to just abolish the no anchoring rule as it has served absolutely no purpose.

  4. One thing that golf has above all other sports is the reliance on the honesty and integrity of those who play the game, paricularly at the professional level, and that characteristic is being called into question by this important but tedious debate. Does anyone really think that McCarron and Langer are CHEATS? That is the basis of the current brouhaha – the long putter players are being called out like someone who has used the leather mashie to nudge the ball into a better lie when it is in the rough. Is that the right thing to do? No. This game has lasted for centuries by allowing players to understand the rules and apply them to the extent there have been many examples of players calling penalties on themselves when no-one else saw an infringement. I watched a fair bit of the senior British Open this week and didn’t see Langer anchoring his putter even when playing in the most dire weather. Those individuals – if they are competing pros – should either put up (their “evidence”) or shut up.

  5. You, and the PGA of America opposed the anchoring rule, along with many other people and organizations who sent in comments during the allowed period. In a press conference, USGA’s Mike Davis said they had found no advantage to anchoring, “but we just don’t like the way it looks”. That’s the only time he has been honest about it, so far as I know.

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